State employees, retirees should be priority in budget talks

Jun 17, 2016

The House and Senate continue to iron out the details of the state budget behind closed doors, and SEANC’s lobbyists are not happy about what they are hearing.

Rumor has it that state employee pay raises and retiree cost-of-living adjustments are not the priority they should be in the negotiations. In fact, some have suggested that retirees will get little more than a one-time bonus of $352, which would do little more than pay for a month of groceries after taxes.

Active employees are also on the back burner, apparently. We need you to tell them to make state employees and retirees a priority. There’s more than enough surplus this year to finally recognize our hard work. We continue to fall further behind each year there’s no pay increase or COLA.

Please contact your legislator today and tell them it is unacceptable to leave state employees and retirees out in the cold once again. We are a priority. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.

As SEANC Lobbyist Flint Benson says in the video above, “They need to know that your vote in November depends on their vote in June.”

Also this week, Benson speaks with longtime SEANC member and Rep. Gary Pendleton (R-Wake) about prioritizing state employee issues, including the fighting of more cuts at the Department of Transportation. Pendleton was named EMPAC’s Freshman Legislator of the Year in 2015 for his efforts.

Please continue to contact your legislators to tell them you need raises and COLAs, that you can’t afford another increase in your health care costs, and that retirement security is a priority for you.

News was released this week that the state retirement systems continue to underperform under the leadership of state Treasurer Janet Cowell. The systems returned just 1 percent for the quarter ending March 31, well below its benchmark goal, and reported a loss of 0.7 percent for the prior to that date. When you’re talking about an $86.7 billion fund, that’s a lot of money!

The average return for all public pension plans nationwide was 1.25 percent in the quarter. If our fund performance had just been average, there would be $212 million more in the fund – more than enough to pay for COLAs this year.

SEANC has argued all along that the system is paying too much in fees to Wall Street and investing too much of retirees’ hard-earned dollars in risky hedge funds and other “alternative investments.”

EMPAC has endorsed Dale Folwell to take Cowell’s place because he plans to bring management of the fund in-house and not be beholding to Wall Street, unlike his opponent, who Cowell has endorsed because he is committed to the status quo, which is a losing proposition for state retirees.